Expectations of Free Lessons in the Hooping Community

Repost from previous website hooptricks.org - originally published on August 8, 2015 at 2:28pm

While participating in a social media discussion, other hooping instructors and I were producing rich content and the conversation was so full of insight that I decided to create an interview-based article. I also decided to ask in the group "Business for Flow Artists" and gathered some insight there from other flow artists.

This article can provide some detailed insight to members of the hooping community. However, this article is mostly meant for those who would like to start teaching or have recently started teaching classes.

We as instructors want to spread information and awareness about this controversial topic. We want everyone to understand our point of view as instructors who receive income from getting paid to teach people how to hoop dance (and how to get fit doing it). Sometimes, we depend on that income to pay our bills and keep things afloat.

The topic was how frequently we run into the expectation of free teaching for classes and lessons. How can we change this and be taken more seriously in the field of teaching hooping and hoop dance?

Missy Cooke's response:

Missycookepic

"In my area yoga ranges from free - $15/class. Most places are less than $10. Zumba ranges from $5-10. Martial Arts ranges from $25-$200/month. Dance classes are $7-20/class.

Businesses struggle at every price range. I think it helps to know who your market is, but even more basic, to constantly reinforce how you help. As an example, my students are moms and grad students who are stressed out, so I constantly talk about the mental health benefits of hooping, and cater my class to help them relax.

These are the points I emphasize when I talk to moms and grad students about my class because that's what they care about...they generally care more about getting what they want than they do about price. So I make sure they know why the price is worth it. Also, good instructors are worth more! You can take speaking classes, teaching classes, or get training on how to be a great instructor. People pay more when they get more."

More information about Missy can be found at http://lansinghoops.com/

Brandy Stafford's response:

brandy stafford

"Start a union (so to speak) in your area. We have talked about doing this with fire breathing. Get everyone together who teaches hooping. You guys all agree to never charge below a certain price. Also come up with other relevant standards (like safety practices, etc). Once most of you are on the same page and unionized, everyone start using that in their advertising. Say that you are union and adhere to certain standards. Over time, the more clients know about union vs. not unionized, the more likely they will be to go with a unionized teacher."

Brandy's troop is TamedFire

My response:

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"It is a good idea for all of us to teach that everyone should know their worth (in regards to providing services), even if we risk upsetting or disagreeing with those that give their services away for free. We have very good reasons to defend our jobs and to look like professionals that will not work without fair pay. Our intentions are pure, we love our students and we know our value. We need to stand together and stand strong (with respect to everyone's opinion). This industry will transform, if we all stay strong and stick together in our stance."

I was a brand new teacher in 2013, and I have been through a lot of discouragement, struggles and successes over the years. The following thoughts, questions and suggestions are based on my experiences. It is important to consider these things when you are a new teacher or planning to become one:

Start by asking yourself:

"Am I under-selling other instructors or am I just charging what I think I am worth?"

If you find you are only offering such low prices (or free) to get ahead on your competition (called under-cutting, under-selling, or in a business term, predatory pricing), you may want to reconsider. This possibly could be affecting other professionals that strive to be paid what they consider a fair rate for their services. In this process, the public may begin to think that hooping instructors are only worth a couple of bucks (or nothing at all).

If you are charging very low or free because you think you are only worth that much, you may also want to dive deeper into why you feel that way. You are likely selling yourself short. To find out if you may be selling yourself short, visit the following questions:

What is your purpose of teaching?

Are you doing it free for the love of it and for the freedom of not being held accountable or upholding a reputation?

Have you always been strong in explanations and teaching things to others?

Were you ready and skilled enough in hooping/hoop dance to start offering classes?

Do you need to practice your teaching skills?

Are there trainings or other resources you could spend time with before putting yourself out there as a professional teacher?

Are you ready and skilled enough to teach students of all skill levels - even advanced?

My thoughts after reading the article "Why Pay for Lessons?" by Temple Of Poi:

If a student has a lot of time but not much money, they can afford to take a lot of extra time and experimentation to learn skills that they could learn much faster at a paid lesson or class. If their teacher is not a professional, they may not mind. The target area for professional instructors would be those who have spending cash, but not a lot of free time. Working individuals or those that are busy but also have spending cash would be the best target. They expect results through the mutual contract between student and teacher. The student pays for the lesson to get the best results, and the teacher provides the most effective and quick results they can. In a paid setting, instructors have accountability and a reputation to uphold. They know it is their job to help you troubleshoot and be at your best, in whatever skill you are learning. A free teacher can do whatever they like. They don't have to answer to anyone or produce any results if their services are free. They may enjoy that freedom. It just depends on the student and what they expect to get from their lesson, whether it is free or paid.

Warnings:

If you're a new teacher or will be one soon, ask yourself WHY you are doing it. If you would like to be taken seriously as a professional and get a good reputation for quality teaching, it is going to take more work. It also produces more reward through paying students. If you're going to be doing it free or super low cost, prepare for a likely burn-out. Prepare for the type of clientele you will attract at free or low cost. If they aren't willing to pay you for the service, they will likely have some other issues that will make you regret offering low cost or free classes.

I have personally experienced many heartbreaking issues from students that I gave cheap or free classes to. Whenever I have tried to be kind and change lives by giving them free or cheap classes, I have been treated unfairly and taken advantage of, 100% of the time. Some examples: I tried giving 5 free classes to someone that struggled with severe depression and an unfavorable living situation. I wanted to change her life and make her happy. She ultimately thanked me by giving the card back after taking several free classes (while barely participating during the classes), and then telling all of my other students to quit because YouTube is free. I also had one of my favorite hoops stolen by a student (and former good friend) that I was giving big discounts to due to her low income and living situation. Beware! I am doing you a favor by asking you to attract the type of student you will be thrilled to teach. Don't endure the pain I went through. Those who pay full price are grateful for your services. I promise.

It is in everyone's best interest to give this a lot of thought and to fully plan. Where do you wish to see yourself 5 years from now, in regards to teaching hooping and hoop dance?